[Christopher Howell was at Caldecott from 1961 until 1971. Of musical fame, he now resides in Italy. In January  2016 Christopher was browsing through some recently added website photographs donated by David Carver. We were grateful to receive comments on some of the photos and his comments are recorded here with links [CURRENTLY BROKEN] to the photos.]


Memories of some Staff by Christopher Howell in relation to photos on the website


Photo ref. DCR-02-82...HERE

The lady sitting on the right who looks as if she’s doing “The Times” crossword is (I’m 90% sure) Mrs. Jane Abbey.

Jane Abbey was a sort of assistant to Joe Marshall in the Colt House in my last year or two. I think before that she had dealt with senior study girls and maybe was at Lacton Hall for a time. She stayed on after I left and I always made a point of seeing her when I visited Caldecott for my annual recitals. She was still assisting in the Colt House with at least the first of Joe Marshall’s successors (called Dick Edwards I think). Jane Abbey seemed a rather unlikely person to be at Caldecott, especially at the time when things (and children) were getting difficult. She spoke a very refined English and rather had the manner of a British consul’s wife. “Mr. Abbey” was an off-limits topic but she had spent a number of years in India, so perhaps she had actually been a diplomat’s wife or something similar. She had a certain something-or-other which meant that teenage boys, even difficult ones, usually respected her and were more likely than not to do what she wanted. I’d say she was certainly a stabilizing influence at an unstable time. Personally I remember talking to her a lot, she was a good person for a teenager developing an awareness of the outside world to discuss things like politics with. She was also very widely read. She took over the library after Miss Elizabeth’s retirement and was surely the natural person to do so. She had a teenage daughter (I think she was called Katie) who sometimes visited but was not part of the Community. I kept in touch with Jane Abbey for a time (Christmas card + a few lines), this faded out on her part sometime in the 1980 so I presume she died. I think I saw her at a reunion in the 1980s and she was looking rather haggard by then.

By the way, I don’t think this is a reunion, I don’t think Jane Abbey would have done “the Times” crossword oblivious of all around her at a reunion, I think this is just a group of staff enjoying a tea break. I seem to remember the lady sitting eating on the left, but no name.

The younger lady sitting on the steps on the left is probably Janis [Janice] Rayment (but I’m about 60% sure in this case). The person to confirm or deny this would obviously be Betty Rayment, a pity she doesn’t have email. My concert programmes show that Janis was at the CC in the year of the photo.

The gentleman with the beard is probably Mr. Hilton [Standing left]; I don’t remember his first name). Only 60% sure in this case too, but his wife Pauline has been identified in the following photo:-

(Photo ref. DCR-02-83 - HERE).

Mr. Hilton looked after the West Wing boys for a time, but I think Pauline had something to do with the girls, they didn’t run the West Wing as a “couple”.

I don’t recognize the other [beared man on right]. Or, just possibly, a certain Mr. Mackintosh (I don’t remember the first name) who arrived without a beard but developed one along the way. His accent was as Scottish as his name (his nickname was of course “Jock”). A very friendly chap. From the slight stoop and rather faun-like appearance it could be him (Mr Hilton had a more robust look).

Correction to DCR-02-37 (and 38 and 39) and others: “Michael R” is Michel Riley (he got very offended if you didn’t pronounce Michel with the accent on the second syllable and Miss Dave always said it wrong). He had a sister called Yvette who was about the same age as me, we were in Margaret Robson’s class together in my first year at Caldecott (Michel was a bit older). They had an elder brother Christopher who sometimes visited (if he was ever at the CC it was before my time), had long hair and played the piano, jazz and musicals stuff played by ear but proficient in his own way.

Lastly, I thought the lady in the other photo ( DCR-02-81) was Miss Mima but didn’t like to say so because I was convinced she left before 1969. Thinking it over, just possibly she left for a while then came back. She looked after the junior study girls (or maybe just their dormitories) when I arrived, and took over the senior girls after Miss Elizabeth left. But she left and died, I think of cancer, while still in her fifties. She was from Edinburgh, another Scot who remained 100% Scottish in her intonation. I don’t remember her surname.

P.S. I think Miss Mima’s surname was Ogilvie but don’t put it up without confirmation from elsewhere.


More recollections:-

The lady between Pauline Hilton and Audrey Watson in DCR-02-85 is almost certainly Pat Meara (pronounced “Mara”).
Pat Meara was Australian, or at any rate had lived there. She didn’t have much of an Australian accent but didn’t quite sound pure English either. For a time (in my later years at CC) she looked after the upstairs dormitories in the West Wing. She was small, slightly dark-skinned and, I would say, a very strong-willed personality. I don’t thing there was much messing about when she was in charge. As a senior boy, it sometimes fell to me to “babysit” for her on Friday evenings. “Babysit” in this case meant sitting in her room while she attended staff meeting. I was there just in case anything happened but as far as I can recall, nothing ever did. I just sat there reading and helping myself to her instant coffee. I suppose my temporary young charges were fast asleep. If they had known I was in the room, not Pat Meara, I’m sure a few energetic pillow fights would have been the least I would have had to contend with. When Pat Meara came up from the dreaded drudgery of the staff meeting, I was usually invited to have another cup of coffee and we talked a bit. My principal recollection is that she was something of an expert on recent translations of the Bible. She introduced me to “The Jerusalem Bible”, this at a time when “The New English Bible” was still stuck at the New Testament and was making such slow progress that many people despaired of ever reading the Old Testament in modern English. I remember I made a trip to Canterbury just to buy my own copy of “The Jerusalem Bible”. I think it was also Pat Meara who introduced me to “The Bible as History”, a book that showed with archaeological evidence that far more of the Biblical events had demonstrably happened than was normally supposed. Presumably I didn’t only talk to her about religion but that’s what I remember and it’s the particular door she opened to me.
As I recall, Pat Meara later married a man who lived down the Ridgeway, near the junction with the A20 a settled down a stone’s throw from Caldecott but without having anything further to do with it. Maybe she’s still there?
I’d say this “Jock” is definitely “Jock” Mackintosh. I don’t see why the bearded gentleman behind Jane Abbey in DCR-02-82 shouldn’t be the same person, maybe a few years younger.